Virgil Matthews: Chapter Three–Casting Off
Author’s note: This is the third installment of Virgil’s tale. Chapters one and two precede this blog post. Please be sure to read them before proceeding. Thanks.
It was an auspicious beginning to our voyage. The sun was warm and white and slowly rose into an endless azure sky that morning. The air was cool and as full of hope as our hold was with bread, dried beef, potatoes and fresh water. Our Captain (I’ve long since forgotten his name for I have lived more years than a man of such meager gifts should be granted) was preternaturally calm, gazing over the deck as God himself might have after six days of labor. I suppose not even the Captain—churlish though he was most of the time—could resist the spell of Poseidon’s deceit that morning.
The East Indiaman on which we sailed that morning had returned from her prior voyages without incident. Her three masts, rigged with square linen sails, had captured winds and raced across the seas undaunted by its terrors: treacherous storms, starvation, unquenchable thirst, jagged lurking reefs, the madness of reaching for a horizon without end. Yes, her hull had ached and moaned and creaked, crying out for the comfort of the harbor as even the best ships do. But she had never faltered, had never given her crew reason to succumb to thoughts of their lifeless bodies, lungs filled with the ocean, floating atop cresting waves in some macabre ballet until they finally sunk into the murky depths of eternity.
As the Invictus cleared the harbor that day, I glanced over my shoulder only once knowing that my wife was about the business of her day just as I was about mine.